BERLIN -- IFA, the huge electronics show in Germany, has in recent years been dominated by the launch of Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note device. But this year Samsung pushed this launch of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy Note Edge Plus forward a few weeks to avoid a head-on collision with Apple's iPhone 6S, which is coming next week. Well, guess what? Samsung stole the show anyway with its Gear S2 smartwatch.

But the absence of a new phone from Samsung left a lot of room for some other smartphone manufacturers to make their mark. We've rounded up what we think are the five most interesting smartphones on display at the show this week:

Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S Huawei's Mate S is a premium Android smartphone which is well designed and built. The Chinese smartphone maker is now targeting Apple and Samsung with more high-end offerings. Photo: David Gilbert/IBTimes

Key Specs

  • 5.5-inch display
  • Force Touch
  • 13 megapixel camera
  • 3GB Ram
  • Price: From €650 ($720)

Huawei is on a bit of a roll at the moment. Currently riding high as the world’s third biggest mobile phone maker, Huawei launched its highest profile smartphone to date at IFA. The Mate S is a premium, metallic Android smartphone which is far and away the Chinese company’s best looking smartphone. The headline feature is Force Touch allowing you press the screen at various levels to do things like zoom in on images or weigh items by placing them on the screen.

Force Touch for now is very limited and will only be available on the Luxury version of the phone for which there is no price, but putting that aside, the Mate S is a very well-designed smartphone though at that price will do well to sell in high volumes.

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5 The Sony Xperia Z5 may not have grabbed the headlines but the company's main flagship phone looks very impressive Photo: (David Gilbert for IBTimes)

Key Specs

  • 5.2-inch display
  • 23 megapixel camera
  • Waterproof
  • 3GB RAM
  • Price: £525 ($800)

Sony made headlines with its world-first 4K smartphone the Xperia Z5 Premium. But if you looked behind the headline a little bit you would have found the regular Xperia Z5, which doesn't come with a 4K screen but also doesn't kill your battery in the blink of an eye and will cost you a whole lot less.

The Xperia Z5 is a beautiful looking smartphone, with a slim and attractive design. Its' side-mounted fingerprint sensor works well and it promises two-day battery life. But it’s real selling point is its new Exmor camera module which offers a new 23 megapixel sensor and hybrid autofocus system which Sony claims is the fastest in the world. The big question mark of course is the Snapdragon 810 chipset powering the phone, which caused so many problems with the Xperia Z3+ earlier this year. 

ZTE Nubia Z9

ZTE Nubia Z9 The Nubia Z9 was the one phone offering something truly innovative with its bezel-free design and edge controls Photo: (David Gilbert for IBTimes)

Key Specs

  • 5.2-inch display
  • Bezel-free design
  • Edge controls
  • 16 megapixel camera
  • Price: 3,499 yuan ($550)

While this isn’t a phone that was launched at IFA and it is currently only available in China, it offers something different which is rare in the smartphone market these days. The Nubia brand is the premium range from up-and-coming Chinese company ZTE and the Z9 offers a attention-grabbing bezel-free design combined with the ability to control the phone by swiping along the edges of the 2.5D Gorilla Glass front.

While this is not a curved screen like the Galaxy S6 edge and the swiping feature sounds like a gimmick, but having tried it, it works and could be something ZTE brings to more of its range in the coming years. Elsewhere the hardware matches most of the premium smartphones on the market, but the company wouldn’t commit to a date for when it will launch outside of its home territory.

ZTE Axon Elite

ZTE Axon Elite The ZTE Axon Elite is the company's first global smartphone and could propel the Chinese company to much bigger things Photo: (David Gilbert for IBTimes)

Key Specs

  • 5.5-inch display
  • Dual camera (13MP + 2MP)
  • 3GB RAM
  • 3x biometric security
  • Price: $450

The Axon was first launched in the U.S. earlier this year before it was launched in China and now the Axon Elite has been launched as the company’s “first global smartphone” coming to Europe as the Chinese company looks to expand its market share. The Axon’s selling points are dual cameras for effects like Bokeh and three forms of biometric security (voice, fingerprint and eye).

It is a well-designed and built smartphone and at $450 is an appealing prospect. The leatherette finish on the top and bottom of the rear cover is slightly disconcerting but on the whole the Axon Elite could be the smartphone which propels ZTE onto a global stage.

Lenovo Phab Plus

Phab Plus Selfie Lenovo Phab Plus: The biggest benefit of the enormous screen is that you can get random strangers into your selfies. Photo: (David Gilbert for IBTimes)

Key Specs

  • 6.8-inch display
  • 3500mAh battery
  • 2GB RAM
  • 13-megapixel camera
  • Price: $299

OK, so many people (including IBTimes) have joked about the size of this “smartphone” considering a 6.8-inch display is considered by most people to be a tablet not a phone. That said, at $299, the price of Lenovo’s phablet makes it an interesting proposition as it could replace both your phone and your tablet.

The design of the Phab Plus is akin to a flattened out iPhone 6 and is slim (7.6mm) and relatively lightweight (229g) considering its size. Despite what Lenovo says, using it one-handed is not very easy, but if you don’t mind looking ridiculous the few times you make phone calls, then it could be a decent option - though it won’t be coming to the U.S. before 2016.